CAPE TOWN (AFP) ― The evacuation of injured British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes from Antarctica got under way Wednesday after the veteran adventurer was forced to pull out of a marathon expedition because of frostbite.
Fiennes was picked up in the early morning and headed for a Belgian station about 70 kilometers away after injuring his left hand at the weekend, his team said.
The 68-year-old was part of a six-member team attempting the first winter crossing of the world’s coldest continent.
“After what seems like an eternity waiting for the weather to improve, Ran was finally able to begin his long journey home in the early hours of this morning,” said Hugh Bowring of the expedition’s operations headquarters in London.
His withdrawal from the epic trek, which is set to start next month, was announced on Monday but a snowstorm had grounded the team and stalled his evacuation.
Fiennes was finally picked up Wednesday by a team of Belgians stationed at Princess Elisabeth Station.
If weather permits, he will next be flown from the Belgian base to the Russian-run station at Novo which has an airstrip and is a key route in and out of Antarctica.
Medical treatment for the frostbite injury is the priority on arrival before the adventurer flies back to the United Kingdom.
In a video posted on the expedition website of his departure, Fiennes said he was “not happy at all”.
The team’s doctor said Tuesday that “Ran,” as the multiple record holder is known, has suffered frostbite to four fingers of his left hand.
This was after he removed a glove to adjust a ski binding at the weekend, forcing him to withdraw from the marathon trek.